International Fellowship of Christians and Jews
|Type||501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization|
|Founded||1983 (originally known as the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews)|
|Founder(s)||Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein|
|Focus(es)||"To promote understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians and to build broad support for the State of Israel."|
|Method(s)||Raising funds among its partners to help Jews in need and Jews living under the threat of anti-Semitism on five continents with programs which include aliyah (immigration) to Israel; providing basic necessities to needy families, the elderly and children in Israel; providing basic necessities including food, clothing and shelter to destitute Jews in the former Soviet Union; and providing informational and educational materials that help people become better advocates for the Jewish state.|
The International Fellowship of Christians & Jews (also The Fellowship and IFCJ) is a philanthropic organization founded in 1983 by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein whose stated goal is to promote understanding and cooperation between Jews and Christians, and build broad support for the State of Israel.
As the national Co-director of Interreligious Affairs for the Anti-Defamation League in Chicago, Eckstein, an Orthodox rabbi, began to forge partnerships with evangelical Christians. In 1983, he established the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews to promote Jewish-Christian cooperation on projects for improving the safety and security of Jews in Israel and around the world.
In 1991, the organization was renamed the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
The Fellowship collects over 100 million dollars a year in donations for Israel, half a which are spent in Israel itself, supporting soup kitchens, absorption centers and bomb shelter renovations. $25 million a year is spent on Jewish aid programs.
In 2003, Eckstein founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada; in 2006, La Fraternidad Internacional de Cristianos y Judíos; and, in 2012, the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Australia.
The organization has headquarters in Chicago and Jerusalem. It is supervised by an independent board of directors, Jewish and Christian. In May 2010, Israel’s Minister of Welfare and Social Services Isaac Herzog presented Eckstein with the government of Israel's first-ever Award for Special Contribution to the Welfare of the People of Israel. The following month, Newsweek named him one the 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America.
In 2005, Eckstein was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the State of Israel, with special emphasis on Israel’s relationships with evangelical communities in Latin America.
The Fellowship's outreach focuses on five major programs:
- On Wings of Eagles, assists Jews in making aliyah (immigration) to Israel from the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia, Europe, Arab lands, and other countries around the world, and helps them with their klitah (resettlement).
- Guardians of Israel, provides basic necessities to needy Israelis by supporting hundreds of projects such as soup kitchens, and by providing food, clothing and basic medical assistance to be distributed while addressing long-term needs like housing, family care, and jobs.
- Isaiah 58, which provides food packages, hot “meals-on-wheels,” medicine, in-home care, housing, heating fuel, clothing, and other basic essentials to more than 200,000 destitute elderly Soviet Jews, and gives Jewish orphans and vulnerable street children in the former Soviet Union the care they need to survive and prepare for a brighter future.
- Stand for Israel, which rallies churches, Christian leaders and others to advocate for Israel by praying for her and supporting her right to exist in peace and security.
- 4Zion, a pro-Israel initiative geared toward students and a younger generation of Israel supporters.
The Fellowship is recognized as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization by the IRS. It submits to examination by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. In 2004, The Fellowship was one of the first not-for-profits entitled to display the BBB Charity Seal, showing full compliance with their Standards for Charitable Accountability.
Support and opposition
The Fellowship's interfaith work has generated criticism from some in the Jewish community. In 2001, Rabbi Avraham Shapira issued a ruling against accepting funds from The Fellowship. In 2002 the Edah HaChareidis rabbinical court issued a ruling against accepting funds from The Fellowship, and, in 2007, the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss added his signature.
At the end of 2009, other religious rabbis and rabbinical courts issued a ruling banning Jews from taking funds from the The Fellowship, citing worries of Christian missionary activity. and idol worship. In response to the ruling, Eckstein said he would "expose his organization's list of haredi-religious beneficiaries in order "to make sure everything is transparent."
Rabbi James Rudin, a senior interreligious advisor for the American Jewish Community, described Eckstein as "well-respected within the American Jewish mainstream. Until he came along, evangelicals and Jews were like ships passing in the night.” 
Below is a timeline of The Fellowship's key events, as listed on the "About The Fellowship" webpage:
- 1983 Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein founds the Holyland Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
- 1984 Dr. Pat Robertson and Dr. Jerry Falwell join Rabbi Eckstein at the First Day of Christian and Jewish Solidarity with Israel.
- 1985 6,000 Ethiopian Jews are airlifted to Israel in Operation Moses, prompting The Fellowship to help fund resettlement programs for new Ethiopian immigrants.
- 1986 Seminar tour to Israel kicks off major effort to increase tourism to Israel and help the Israeli economy by marketing Israeli products.
- 1987 Rabbi Eckstein makes regular TV and radio appearances to discuss Israel, Jews, Judaism, and Jewish-Christian relations.
- 1988 “Ask the Rabbi,” The Fellowship's nationally syndicated radio program, begins airing predominantly on Christian stations.
- 1989 Rabbi Eckstein addresses 2,500 Christians at nationwide Feast of Tabernacles event in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- 1990 The Fellowship launches the On Wings of Eagles program to bring Soviet Jews to Israel following the collapse of the USSR.
- 1991 The Holyland Fellowship becomes the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
- 1992 The first group of Russian Jews is airlifted to Israel through The Fellowship's On Wings of Eagles program.
- 1993 Through the Operation Exodus program, The Fellowship presents an additional $100,000 to bring Ethiopian Jews home to Israel.
- 1994 The 1,000th Russian Jew from The Fellowship's On Wings of Eagles program arrives in Israel.
- 1995 The Fellowship opens The Center for Jewish and Christian Values in Washington, D.C.
- 1996 Operation Alert is launched to fight religious persecution around the world.
- 1997 The Fellowship creates the Isaiah 58 program to provide food, clothing, medical help, and lifesaving aid for orphans and elderly Jews in the former Soviet Union.
- 1998 $2 million is donated by evangelical Christians to rescue the Jews of Kwara, Ethiopia, and bring them to Israel through the On Wings of Eagles program.
- 2000 The Fellowship's Jerusalem office opens, and the Guardians of Israel program is launched to help families suffering from poverty and terrorism in Jerusalem and throughout Israel.
- 2001 As the second uprising among Palestinian Arabs in protest of the continued Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank begins in Israel, the devastation wrought by suicide bombers motivates The Fellowship to establish the Israeli Victims of Terror Fund.
- 2002 The Fellowship initiates Stand for Israel to mobilize U.S. churches, Christian leadership, and individuals to express their solidarity with the Jewish state through prayer and advocacy. The first International Day of Prayer and Solidarity with Israel mobilizes millions of Christians to pray for Israel.
- 2003 Rabbi Eckstein founds the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada, a sister organization to The Fellowship.
- 2004 The Fellowship launches Operation Safe Bus to safeguard public buses that transport as many as 1.7 million Israelis each day.
- 2005 The Fellowship sponsors its first tour for Israel for Fellowship supporters.
- 2006 The Fellowship, through the Guardians of Israel program, is the first organization to deliver emergency food and supplies for people living in bomb shelters during the Second Lebanon War, while the On Wings of Eagles program helps 200 of the Bnei Menashe, descendants of the biblical tribe of Manasseh living in India, and 200 Iranian Jews make aliyah to Israel.
- 2007 The Fellowship's Guardians of Israel program donates $10 million to help refurbish bomb shelters in northern Israel and the community of Sderot bordering Gaza.
- 2008 The Fellowship's Guardians of Israel program renovates 32 public bomb shelters in Sderot, which for years has suffered daily rocket attacks.
- 2009 The Fellowship distributes more than $10.5 million to assist 27,785 Holocaust survivors in desperate need in Israel, the former Soviet Union, Latin America, and Europe.
- 2011 The Fellowship is voted one of the "Top 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For" by The Non-Profit Times.
- 2011 The Fellowship launches 4Zion.
- International Council of Christians and Jews
- Christian–Jewish reconciliation
- Christian Zionism
- IFCJ: Who We Are
- "The Jewneric Leadership Series: Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein", The Jewneric Leadership Series (Jewneric), retrieved July 10, 2012
- Israel's money man gets funds for Holy Land from Evangelical Christians, Haaretz
- International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Canada
- La Fraternidad Internacional de Cristianos y Judíos
- International Fellowship of Christians and Jews of Australia
- Rabbi Honored for Special Contribution to Israel, YNet News, retrieved July 10, 2012
- "The Fifty Most Influential Rabbis in America Newsweek". Newsweek. June 28, 2010. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
- On Wings of Eagles
- Guardians of Israel
- Isaiah 58
- Stand for Israel
- "Charity Review, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews", BBB Wise Giving Alliance (Better Business Bureau), retrieved July 10, 2012
- Rabbi Elyashiv: Refuse Money from IFCJ
- The Ultimate Kibitzer, Christianity Today, Feb 2009, retrieved July 12, 2012
- The NonProfit Times' 50 Best Nonprofits To Work For 2011, The Non-Profit Times, May 5, 2011, retrieved July 12, 2012